Danvers High Cagers Steamrolling Opposition at Season’s Midway Point

The Danvers High boys’ basketball team keeps making history every time they take the floor. Last night’s 70-40 cakewalk at St. Mary’s of Lynn made it a school record 11 straight to start the season, and only 8-3 Beverly, hosting the Falcons next Tuesday at 7 p.m., stand between the defending Division 3 state champions and an 18-0 record heading into the four-team Comcast Tournament at Babson College February 17-18 that includes Boston Globe Top 20 teams Brighton (No. 13, 6-3), Boston College High (No. 7, 8-2) and Newton North (No. 16, 8-2)  three Division 1 teams. Those two games will be great tuenups for the Falcons for the post-season.

Speaking of ratings, today’s Boston Globe Top 20 shows a remarkable package at the summit. Following No. Lawrence Central Catholic at 10-1 stands No. 2 St. John’s Prep and No. 3 Danvers, both at 11-0, a first for the schools separated by two miles. In past springs, one might have found the Prep and Danvers baseball teams, still coached by a pair of legends, Danvers native Pat Yanchus at St. John’s and Ipswich native Roger Day at Danvers, in those lofty ranked slots. Now we see it in basketball.

Even more impressive, the ESPN Boston State of Massachusetts rankings have the Falcons third and the Prep fifth. It’s a shame we couldn’t enjoy a Danvers-Prep battle of unbeatens this weekend in a packed DHS fieldhouse or Memorial Gymnasium at the Prep. Ahhhh, but how would we have known??

Simply amazing, when one realizes Danvers boys basketball had not won a Northeastern Conference title since 1975, let alone been considered a state power. That is now in fact the case as we turn into the second half of the regular season and cautiously set our sights on what should be a terrific state title run for both the Eagles and Falcons.


Even without the departed George Merry, the 6-8 pivotman who is now playing at WPI, the Falcons are displaying a defensive intensity, offensive firepower and overall killer instinct that has never been seen before by this pair of eyes, and I’ve been following DHS baskets since 1960. Yes, I’m old.

Coach John Walsh has integrated sophomore Eric Clifford, who scored a team-record eight three-pointer at St. Mary’s, into a unit that loves playing defense — and pressing — as much as they love scoring at the other end.  Veterans Eric Martin, Nick Bates, Nick McKenna and Dan Connors are playing as hungry as a year ago at season’s start when they had no idea they were on the way to posting a 21-4 record and winning their first Division 3 and state titles. They look as formidable this time around without big man Merry. After 11 games the Falcons are beating their opponents by an average of 72-45. Utterly unbelievable — but true.  The Tom Brady Patriots Era has been amazing, but none moreso than what John Walsh and the Falcons have accomplished in less than two years.

Walsh and his staff deserve a great deal of credit for motivating a group that could have felt fat and content after last winter’s marvelous accomplishments. Clearly they have every intention to successfully defend their Division 3 championship. Their first NEC title in 38 years is a given. Yep, they finished second to Winthrop in NEC Small a year ago.

This entry was posted in Gary. Bookmark the permalink.